Gingham Check (Klub Kakofanney Lockdown Letter)

Gingham Check

Did you know that as well as banning live music performances, Scotland has now also banned pre-recorded music in cafes and restaurants. The rationale behind this is that they were worried that background music would raise overall sound levels, so people would lean in closer to each other in order to be heard, and increase the risk of spreading covid. The unintended consequence of the ban is that the deafening silence and lack of atmosphere gives the library effect, people feel self-conscious, talk in hushed whispers, and lean in closer to each other in order to be heard....

The Shapes stay socially distanced

This crisis has presented challenges to musicians, not only with how they engage with audiences, but also with how they engage with other band members. Local band, The Shapes, who have played at Klub Kakofanney many times over the years, have put together this youtube video of them all performing remotely, and synched together into one movie using the magic of the video editor.

You might recognise Clare on saxophone as the clarinet player in our recent reloaded video of The Balkan Wanderers playing at Klub Kakofanney, and Beth on trombone was one half of the impressive brass section in our Storyteller video.

Tommo taking over the church

One of the most frustrating things about this pandemic is the conflicting "expert" opinions. This week I have seen two pieces of research into music performances, one of which concludes that singing spreads many times more virus-carrying aerosol particles than speaking, and another which decided that there is no significant difference in risk provided the area is well ventilated. The science summariser told the BBC interviewer that singing arias in a church is probably safe, but heavy metal in a small pub is a no-no. So how about a rock musician in a church? Here is a bit of Dave Tommo Tomlinson playing in St Mary's Church in Thame back in 2012.

Dave is a former bass player with The Mighty Redox, one half of Purple May, and previously organised some of the Wheatsheaf's Sunday afternoon acoustic gigs.

Let us be one in Eswatini

Okay, who has heard of Eswatini? No it isn't an Icelandic rock band. Neither is it an exotic pizza topping. Eswatini is a country. It was known as Swaziland up until a couple of years ago, but decided to change its name from the one bestowed upon it by colonial powers to the one used in its own language.

If I told you that Eswatini is a small landlocked country in south east Africa, slightly smaller than Wales with a population of not much over a million people, and of all the world's nations, it is the one most badly affected by the HIV virus, then I expect you are now conjuring up images of rural mud hut villages and Zulu warriors beating tribal drums. That's understandable, but the truth is that the country has several large towns, some 300,000 people live in the capital city, Mbabane, (that's about the same as the population of Cardiff), and just like everywhere else in the world, Eswatini is having to deal with the Covid crisis.

This video, Asibemunye, has Eswatini's leading music stars collaborating on a bilingual song of friendship and hope, and setting a good example on distancing and face masks.

Asibemunye translates as "Let us be one". The video was organised by the Eswatini government's Emergency Covid Task Force, as a public information message. How many western governments have been this imaginative? I hope watching it will change your perception of developing countries.

Gingham check in Japan

You have probably worked out from some of my previous world music recommendations that I'm a fan of the unusual, the absurd, and the seriously downright weird. How else do I explain watching bands like Beaver Fuel and Brown Glove? Well it doesn't come much weirder than this video from Japan. It features a girl group called AKB48, so named because they come from Akiba district of Tokyo and there are 48 of them in the band. The song is called Gingham Check, and even with the subtitles, I'm not sure this video makes any sense at all,.... but its a music video, it doesn't have to make sense.

It might be a love song, who knows, but I love the costumes (especially those stripey bandits), the stereotypes and parodies of US cop shows, the movie clichés, and the obligatory guest appearance by the rubber Godzilla.

Please remember

If you haven't been keeping up with the news, Covid cases are rising in Oxford and Swindon. We are getting perilously close to having a local lockdown imposed on us. Much of the increase is affecting people in the 18-30 age group. Whatever age you are, please do everything you can to help control the spread of this virus. Remember the frequent handwashing, remember the facemasks in shops and on buses, and most importantly, remember the social distancing. Otherwise we'll never get back to being able to enjoy live gigs again.

28th August 2020
The Lockdown Letters
Klub Kakofanney